January 1990 Issue #3 ECOLOGIA NEWSLETTER Archive

January 1990 Issue #3


Participation in Soviet Green Movements Increasing at All Levels

A cold winter in Europe does not seem to have cooled the enthusiasm of Soviet citizens for an ever increasing involvement in green movements. My January trip exposed me to examples of growing local, regional, national, and international involve- ment which are stunning achievements for organizations that are in most cases only a few years old.

In Moldavia, a previously fragmented network of ecology clubs has just completed the formation of a regional organization and publication of a Moldavian Green Newspaper. Now problems such as pesticide contamination can be addressed at the regional level not just as individualized local problems. For the Moldavian Greens there will undoubtedly be increased strength in numbers and coordination.

In the Baltics, local green leaders scored amazing electoral successes in fall 1989 municipal elections, and seem headed for similar results in the February 1990 elections of representatives to their regional assemblies (Supreme Soviets). Green leaders will be able to affect public policy more directly. Many are trained scientists, and as "insiders" they will apply their wealth of information and rational decision-making skills to problems that had often previously been ignored by authorities who lived too far away and thus very safely out of the range of local problems. Leaders of the Lithuanian green movement reported the development of neighborhood groups who have begun to monitor individual facilities. Such local involvement is an excellent training ground for future democratic decision makers. It is not suprising that many of these local activists have risen to municipal, regional, and even national leadership positions. Perestroika is working, here in the local green committees where old attitudes discouraging responsible political involvement are melting away, even in the dead of winter.

There are also indications of rapidly developing international connections. Environmental leaders from Leningrad to the Baltics have become active participants in conferences with other northern European nations focusing upon cleaning up the Baltic Sea. The most recent was held in the autumn of 1989. Environmental leaders will thus be able to utilize their regional and local networks to bring necessary local participation into projects that will attack Baltic Sea pollution at its multiple local sources, and guarantee long term solutions.

Western media are beginning to report the role of environmental concerns in the democractic and national movements in Eastern Europe and the USSR. Perhaps when they take a closer look they will discover that ecologists are not only part of the force that divides and challenges the established order; green consciousness and green movements may also be providing a much needed pathway to regional, national, and international cooperation in eastern Europe and the USSR.

Randy Kritkausky

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